tv Early Start with Christine Romans and Dave Briggs CNN April 7, 2017 2:00am-3:01am PDT
fired at an air base. after an attack on his own people, including dozens of children being killed. >> u.s. officials say the tom ho -- missiles hit the target. >> president trump said there can be no dispute syria used chemical weapons on its people. now russia disagrees with that analysis. his call a stunning reversal on syria and assad. remember, the president was silent about this attack for over a day and as recently as last week his administration opposed removing the brutal dictator. he had been out spoken of anything in syria after the much more serious attack by assad in 2013, so was this a legal move by the president and what happens next? we have the global resources of cnn covering this breaking story. let's begin with cnn's ryan
brown live at the pentagon, what do we know. >> reporter: the 59 tomahawk missiles were targeting this air base that the pentagon believes was linked to the chemical attack. they show them leaving and returning, it's all designed to disable the base preventing it from conducting future operations and the pentagon says it was to prevent assad from carrying out any future attacks, and avoiding striking any russian personnel, they used existi existing de conflicticonflictin to avoid hitting russians.
a missile that allows, prevents any threats to u.s. pilots but punishing strikes against this air base. >> thank you very much. there's a lot to cover. a lot of ramifications and immediate impacts as we learn that information, we will. president trump called these strikes vital to national security. that's going to be key to whether or not they were necessary to stop assad and whether or not they are legal. does syria represent a true threat to the u.s.? lawmakers seem split but there was no move to block the president on this. we saw a huge change going from assad's future to now up to the people. athena? >> reporter: hi, chris. the president took this bold action the first direct u.s.
military action against the regime of syrian president ba s -- assad. he used his words to explain his reaction to a approach to end the syrian conflict. back in 2013 after a similar attack, trump was vocally opposed to responding to assad in this way. last night he did respond and here is what he had to say. >> on tuesday, syrian dictator bashar al assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians. using a deadly nerve agent, assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women, and children. it was a slow and brutal death
for so many. even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very b baric attack. no child of god should suffer such horror. tonight i ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in syria from where the chemical attack was launched. it is in this vital national security interest of the united states to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. there can be no dispute that syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligation under the chemical weapons
convention and ignored the urging of the u.n. security council. years of previous attempts at changing assad's behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically. as a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilize threatening the united states and its allies. tonight i call on -- nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in syria. and also, to end terrorism out of all kinds and all types. we ask for god's wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world. we pray for the lives of the
wounded and for the souls of those who have passed. and we hope that as long as america stands for justice, then peace and harmony will in the end prevail. good night, and god bless america and the entire world. thank you. and so after being initially slow to respond to this chemical attack, the president thridelivg that strong statement taking action against an arab regime base now what will this mean for russian-u.s. relations. rex tillerson briefed us which had strong words which had agreed to remove syrian chemical weapons three years ago. he said russia has clearly failed in its responsibility to deliver on that commitment.
either russia has been complicit or incompetent in its ability to deliver. thank you and russia has strong words for the u.s., denouncing those strikes in syria as quote an act of aggression, vladimir putin says it is a serious blow to u.s.-russian relations. matthew chance is live in moscow for that part of the story. matthew. >> reporter: that's right. on the face of at least the russians are absolutely furious they were carried out against their ally in the middle east. a statement from the kremlin says this president putin regards the attack on syria as an aggression of the sovereign state. it goes on that the syrian army has no chemical weapons, so they are sticking to their versioning
of events that it was made up, there was no chemical attacks. there's been important action because the russians have also announced they're suspending an air safety agreement between the russians and u.s. military, which is a measure to prevent aircraft from coming into dangerous contact with each other. that's now suspended there will be no contact between the militaries on the ground. but there are also signs that russia is prepared to take this military action on the chin. they were warned in advance, they didn't lose any personnel or we would be having a different conversation. they didn't use their surface to air missile system to take out those missile that could have easily heavily disrupted the u.s. strikes and didn't do it and now the statement from the foreign minister saying i'm
particularly disappointed by the way this damages u.s. relations but i don't think it will lead to an inreversible situation. that was from the foreign minister clearly leaving the door open to an improvement with the united states. and obviously he can discuss that further when rex tillerson secretary of state comes to moscow in the middle of next week. back to you. >> interesting dynamic evolving, russia to stand down, the united states to stand up. the question, did president trump have the right to do this legally? and was it the right move? two different very equally important questions. we have cnn political analyst david gregory, counter terrorism analyst and official phil mud and cnn military analyst lieutenant general mark hertling and james spider marks.
gentlemen having you in the studio is a big benefit to us. let's talk and what happened. what was used? what do we know about what happened? >> the two destroyers, these were destroyers were just off the coast, they launched 59 cruise missiles, t-lams, tomahawks and land at the airfield. that's where the chemical attack arg originated from. there were rotary aircraft routinely stationed there. this was kind of in the middle of nowhere so we didn't have the collateral damage concerns as a result of this strike. so there's benefit in terms of proportionality and we can talk about that and whether that makes sense here and what we think might happen later but we went against chemical weapons,
capabilities and limited it to a very narrow focus. >> this is russian state tv showing the aftermath they say of this missile strike, so it sure looks like damage was done. general hertling, we had lots of lawmakers on yesterday before they knew the president would be doing this saying oh, it would be very simple just take tout runways and thereby debilitate it, it sounds like it went further than that? >> any strike against the airfield not only cratering the runway, but in this case hardened facilities. you want to make sure this airport, this airfield cannot be used again, so they did crater the runways, strike the aircraft targets, the refuelling facilities. when you're talking about 59 tomahawks in the area you're going after each target with each missile -- sorry, single
targets with multiple missiles so you're going to hit those hardened facilities two or three times in an attempt to make sure they are never used again, you want to break through the top of those, i've seen many of these in combat, a second missile goes in and perhaps destroys an aircraft. spider will tell you there probably was not a whole lot of aircraft. assad would have moved those in anticipation of the strikes, but this was bold, real teary strike. this was a one-time strike to send a message and i suggest that message is not only physical in terms of damage of an airfield where chemical strikes emanated from but also very strong political to include
nato secretary mattis told about the strike beforehand but also psychological. this is a game changer. people are saying what is going to happen next even though both mcmaster and tillerson have said nothing is going to happen next. we have done the strike we wanted to do to retaliate against this chemical weapon attack. >> but nato and ally countries liking it doesn't mean it was authorized by the u.n. security council, which it one and doesn't mean it's going to qualify in the unite as retaliatory, because this was done by president trump in what he called self-defense. that's going to be an interesting legal question. it seemed the biggest resistance to this would have been trump's preexisting position. tons of tweets to look at back in 2013, a time marker of another and more horrible
chemical attack if even imaginable to people, the numbers much huger, trump said to then president obama don't go in, it's not worth it and saying the same thing now, tillerson, haley saying it, and now a change. >> blaming in 2013 for emboldening assad and syrian regime had his own hand in emboldening him in the past few days saying there was no reason to displace him from power from the united states's perspective comments from secretary tillerson, now looking from inside the oval office is different from outside the oval office, now the first president decide he wants to be the moral leader. it's still a question of what the end game is here.
i don't think we can say with this certainly yes, it has gotten everybody's attention does it -- another chemical weapons strike. by the way, why were the chemical weapons still there? i thought they were to get them out of the country, what happened with that? and the prelude -- we've been in war since 2001. i think people of the united states understand we're not going to commit ground forces to effect regime change and all that would require in a six-year civil war. so to degrade chemical weapons, topple assad. one thing is that there's more of a collision course between president trump and president putin. these are the questions that we move forward with.
>> phil, how do you see it? >> i think you got to look at a couple of piece os on the whiche is board. you've got to believe there are a couple of options on the table and some of the news reports out of more lar-a-lago indicate tha prevent air force attacking civilians, and attacks against regime targets for example presidential palaces, so you have a message clearly sent against a narrow set of targets, meanwhile the comments, i would say fairy restrained with secretary tillerson's visit next week. he went for a specific message on chemical wheneapons.
what are we going to do about assad. one final point on this, the russians have paid virtually nothing for their interference in syria so far and i do not believe they will see this as a serious price they paid for being there, so if we believe these strikes will accelerate conversations with the russians about ousting assad, i don't think that's true. >> panel, there's stick around, we will rely on you throughout our breaking news coverage. there was swift response, we will tell you reaction from the middle east and more. next.
we are breaking news. the u.s. firing 59 tomahawk missiles aimed at a syrian air base where officials say that's where the assad regime took off and carried out that deadly chemical attack. at least six people are reportedly dead from the strikes. that's coming from syrian authorities. the syrian army condemning the u.s. strikes saying america is
now a partner of isis and other terror organizations. cnn's muhammad lila is live in istanbul. >> reporter: good morning, responding in a predictable way calling this part of america's misguided theory. puts them on the isis side, reaction in the region saudi arabia calling this courageous, we can talk about the strategy all we want. what really matters often times is the reality on the ground and how people are react to go this and whether more people are being put danger's way. this was an activist actually at this site of the alleged chemical attack helping document it. he point to out that the opposition activists on the
ground were surprised at the airstrike, happy at the airstrikes but now also afraid because they don't know how the syrian government and syrian army is going to respond. for example will they retaliate in a major way against these opposition group os on the grou and that's what people are afraid of over the next 24-48 hours. we have david gregory, phil mud, and retired general spider marks. david we have heard after the strikes from secretary of state rex tillerson who basically used the strongest language against russia that we have heard thus far in this administration. let me play that for everyone. >> there is no doubt in our minds and the information we have supports that syria, syrian
regime under the leadership of ba s bashar al assad -- assad's role in the future is uncertain clearly, and with the acts that he has taken it would seem there would be no row for him to govern the syrian people. >> i think that was just before the strikes. but how do you interpret that, david? >> i think it's very interesting on a couple of levels. first of all the secretary of state has been largely missing in action thus far in the administration and is about to get on the world stage in a big way in this meeting next week in russia. tillerson, as you recall knows vladimir putin well from his time at exxonmobil and one of the things i've picked up from tillerson talking to him over the years, tillerson's criticism of president obama was that he
didn't know how to deal with putin from a position of strength. he says and believes tillerson does that putin responds to strength and power. here is a big change in the dynamic after threats and a red line from president obama, this administration wants to look very different by comparison. a condemnation of this strike by president trump, his own line, red line, then immediate action followed up by tillerson who i think is going to initiate muscular diplomacy against russia of let's get rid of these chemical weapons, but we have to talk about the future of assad and whether the u.s. can pressure to get assad out. lots of consequences to that. but that's the diplomatic play i'll be watching for. >> phil mud we saw the trump move not just by taking out the
air base, but by getting russia to stand down. they did not do anything to stop the missiles as they came screaming in from the mediterranean. we know what tillerson said and -- called this an ak of aggression by the united states and that it had a contrived pretext. >> boy, america this morning, friday morning, we're going to think this is a huge move. i do not think it is, chris. the russians are better at the art of the long view than the americans. let me tell you why this is a -- which he is move, the russians have been at this for years, we have now had fewer than five minutes on an airstrike, if i'm vladimir putin saying if that's the price i have to pay for a foot hole in syria, not a big price. there are other questions the russians will ask, will you
initiate no play zones, target regime targets, will you commit to changing the assad regime and try to bring in other players, the turks and iraqis to change, i bet they are going to say the americans are short term, staged some relatively small strikes against one airfield but they don't want in this game after what happened in afghanistan and iraq and that we gamble and will once again step away. i don't imagine it's a huge step for the future unless we follow-up. >> let's not forget isis. isis is going to be happy about this airstrike. we know the opposition groups are going to be happy the united states is finally getting involved. russia and trump are going to agree they want to take out isis. you just had the attack in st. petersburg last week, putin gets up and thinks about those who want to under mine his own
regime, that's why he supports assad. he doesn't want to give any room to isis. spider, do you believe this is just the first move in the which he is game? >> i am a little more tsesangui that the united states has a plan or sequence or series of options available. >> what does that look like? >> at least we've opened the door in terms of conducting military operations in syria. we have not done that before except on a very small level. significantly we have special forces doing precise targeting and artillery capabilities so we can support the resistance forces but can also go back across the border into turkey, so this opens the door for us to continue to poke away significantly at assad. i think the long game is the united states does want a regime change, we're just not going do that in the short term. i agree with phil, i think this
opens the door and i'm optimistic that we do have some additional capabilities certainly and options certainly that have been rearshearsed we use. >> it's a very different time now than it was in 2013 because by comparison if you wanted a chemical attack the act on that was the one, you had over 1,000 people by most counts killed, but you have people like rand paul saying this is illegal, this over shoots his constitutional authority and that's a legitimate question to be had but they didn't block him and it is a different time now than it was then right on the heels of getting out of afghanistan and iraq. the next step has to include some kind of interchange with congress and how do you think that goes with this president? >> i'm not a great legal mind, chris, you probably have a whole lot more information on this, i
don't believe that mr. trump can use the aumf cited against use of military force that was designed in 2001 to fight terrorists as part of mr. bush's plan. he could use however there's a very on stbscure, act against chemical weapons that all nations were signatories where chemical weapons used in mass sign up to say we will never allow this to happen again and i think that's what u.n. ambassador haley was citing. in 2013 when they did take responsibility for assad we will contribute of getting rid of the last remaining chemical weapons inside syria. secretary tillerson used that against them last night saying
they were complicit in not doing that. there was not a war powers act, all of the things are going to be a factor but do have a republican congress and senate both supporting president trump on this as well as the support on the world stage. we will get the answers to how congress is feeling for everyone on new day. coming up we'll have several members of congress on to discuss the strikes, congress meth multien, marco rubio, tim kaine and cory gartner. >> we are getting information on what was the effect of the 59 tomahawk missiles hitting a syrian air base. when new day returns, we'll have more information.
we are following breaking news for you. leaders around the world responding to the u.s. missile strikes on a syrian air base in retaliation for assad's deadly chemical weapons attack, it target targeted an airfield that held chemical weapons. russian tv showing this video of the damage left behind from the strikes. vladimir putin calls them quote trumped up. he suspended a 2015 agreement preventing mid-air collision. >> france and germany saying ass assad bears full responsibility for the u.s. airstrikes. christian amanpour joins us, tell us the world's reaction thus far. >> reporter: it's really
significant. obviously the allies are supporting president trump. in fact in the words of the british defense secretary he basically called it as it is. this is the first major test confronting president trump assad's use of chemical weapons banned under international law and therefore trump's reaction was to deter any further use of such weapons and deter to try to change the situation in syria to make sure those kind of weapons are not used again. and the allies are beginning once again to talk about assad -- not the same as years ago but as tillerson as said the u.s. secretary of state that somebody who does this kind of thing to their own people has no role in government. interesting is the russian reaction, while angry, calling it illegitimate, an act of aggression the russian foreign
minister himself has said this will not lead to an inreversible situation. and the chinese reaction again very, very important as well because president xi is sitting with president trump in florida right now as this attack and response by president trump was being launched the chinese have said we condemn the use of chemical weapons, why is it significant? because the u.s. and russia have been the obstacles to any resolutions and the russian remain the enabler for bashar al assad. >> we have word that the u.s. did alert russia shortly before these strike iss before the strikes, and as you say the language coming out of russia is interesting. what do you think will happen if
and when rex tillerson does full till that visit next week to moscow? >> reporter: first we hear that that visit is going to go ahead. not formally from the president, putin or elsewhere, but people have parliament have said there's no reason to cancel that meeting and therefore that will be a very, very important meeting and hopefully presumably those people sitting around a table are going to try to figure out whether in fact there's a new chapter in this effort contain and stop the syrian war and to stop supporting bashar assad. even though russia denies it it violates russia's deal with assad as well, so it's not just a violation of what the west an nato thinks so i think that's really important. what further will happen? i don't think anybody believes this is a beginning of a massive invasion of syria of any major
attempt in terms of you know with military to oust bashar assad but i think it's concentrated the international community's mind again that he is the main obstacle to any kind of resolution in syria. yes, isis that will continue because both the united states and russia want to do that and the u.s. is maneuvering to fully encircle raqqah and has some 900 forces on the ground and they're really getting ready to do in raqqah what they have been doing in mosul so that presumably will continue. the question though is to try to neutralize the major threat posed by assad because it's assad using the chemical weapons and even without chemical weapons responsible for the death of 400,000 deaths of civilians over six years.
>> what about france and uk that had condemned the chemical attack, now where are they in terms of next steps with or without the u.s.? >> reporter: as you said russia was informed through the de conflcon fliction channel. they supported what's happened because of syria's unacceptable use of these kind of whens but still very unclear as to where this is going to go in a broader strategy because while they're saying assad must go, there's no room for assad in any political future, there's no real plan at the moment and never really has been to either get him out politically or militarily and the political talks that have been continuing occasionally convened in geneva and elsewhere go nowhere because everybody
base base basically says assad is not serious, they won't negotiate with the opposition even the moderate opposition and assad in an interview just two days og said we have no option but to continue this war, so he's thinking he's got russia and total victory, whether they can break that and understand the significance of the u.s. response remains to be seen. >> thank you for all the context and please stick with us through our special coverage and breaking news throughout the morning. one step perhaps as christiane says, you had the u.n. last night couldn't come to a vote on this. they had three proposals what to do. let's see what could happen next. we have major general james spider marks.
as we were looking standing in the water, roughly represent the two u.s. destroyers. where were we positioned and where did these missiles go? >> we were positioned about here in the eastern med. launched the 59 missiles to als al sharad. this is where the chemical strike started from. >> where we believe by best proof of radar and otherwise the planes that were used to dump the chemicals took off here? >> correct. >> so that had a message and strategic component and how the u.s. did this, no fighter planes no manned aircrafts, and the use of the tom hawks what does that say to you? >> it minimizes the risk.
if we were to putn man to aircraft, that's a significant endeavor. >> and would have involved russia too a lot of ground to air defenses of airs. >> absolutely and that was the purpose of this deconfliction process. that was critical, so t-lams were important. if you want it to go through the upper right wind doe dodow of g that's where it will go. >> the ships are fast but still takes time to get them places. what do we have and where? >> as matter of routine we have ships in the mediterranean
available for use, we also have aircra aircraft carriers, from that platform we could launch similar types of capabilities and close time is greater but gives us enhanced capability and bear in mind we have forces in turkey as well and periodically forces in syria. >> in terms of next steps, we're a long way from that, we have to see what happens with the political will in u.s. the rights of law in the u.s. in terms of what can be done and what the security council wants to do in terms of allies, but if you wanted to stick with your capabilities right now how broad is the options? >> we have additional forces we could include in syria and a repeat of what we saw of other
shayrat. were following breaking news. the u.s. launching missile strikes following the chemical attack. u.s. officials saying assad carried out that attack. political analyst josh rogen, an associate analyst a.b. stoddard. did the president have the authorization not officially but sort of the right to do this
without congress? >> well, he did it i mean you know there may be a war powers debate and authorization debate in the days to come. we'll see if somebody initiates that. the president's language was specifically tailored to address that that this is in the interest to have united states. th it is a violation of international law to use chemical weapons and the president is saying that the united states will take the lead in making sure these weapons are not used with impunity. the refugee issue, the targeting of civilians which as christiane was just saying the hundreds of thousands by the assad regime, it's also creating a historic refugee problem in the region which is something trump has
opposed, he wants to keep the refugees out and leads to the question is he going to allow more syrian refugees in? because this becomes a serious situation because you have millions of refugees coursing through this part of the world some of whom could be vulnerable to the pop beg-- propaganda of isis. will he create safe zoneser t? >> that's an interesting one, as we know in terms of the threat refugees pose, they are historically fairly low, but this change of heart that our president has had because of these pictures, will it translate into a sympathy for the refugees obviously fleeing this kind of victimization? there are a lot of the layers to this a.b., what we are calling the right to do this, there's a
legitimate debate, rand paul says this exceeds his constitutional authority that congress is supposed do this, the amuf, for terrorism, this wouldn't seem to address it, but does any of that matter? congress let him do it as they probably would have let obama if he wanted to do it unilaterally as clinton, bush and even reagan did it. is that going to be a relevant argument going forward? >> i think there are going to be a few from the libertarians about the fact that he didn't consult with congress. the administration sees the president's powers under article two, but there were who seemed to sort of agree the strikes were appropriate but any further escalation would have to be approved by congress.
you know i think the administration should just dare congress, we know chris, they don't want to vote on a new amuf and see if they want to be involved in this debate. >> that's what obama did. he did not handle as cleanly -- forgiving president what he did in 2013, he was quiet but once he decided this was a bad thing he acted. obama there was some torture on that, but when they went to congress they said no, this time might not. >> let's talk about what then donald trump said in 2013 because he was quite clear, he tweeted what will we get for bombing syria besides a debt and long term conflict. obama needs congressional approval. josh, once you're in the oval
office your outlook can change. >> right. the legal officers of the white house explained what exactly what was the justification, what does the president mean when this was of vital national security interest and their answer was regional stability preventing use of chemical weapons and protecting people from the humanitarian disaster. that's a huge revelation, a total shift of what the president of the united states used to think about what are the justifications of going to war with american mill tar, totally different what he said in his inauguration address when he talked about america first and a very broad almost like unlimited interpretation of when the president can use military force. a.b. is right, congress is going to bitch and moan but they have
advocate tod advocated to weigh in on this stuff for years and the amuf has gone to a ground halt and there's no insight to politically weigh in, so he's taken advantage of that but now that we have this definition from the president of the united states that the united states can go to war for humanitarian grown, actually compared it to the 2011 invasion of libya by president to justify it. that's a whole new frame for this administration how they view the use of american power in the role in the world is totally op sposite from a few days. >> you have to go slow at this white house and president for extending legal authority. it is weak. any decent lawyer would say if you had this out in court trump would lose, congress doesn't want the take this on, but
that's not a rationale to do it under the constitution they should all quit. so this is political more than legal. so that takes us to pure politics and let's go to russia. this has been a big boost for president trump in terms of defending this idea that he is putin's boy. he told him this was coming, toll h-- told him to stand down and he did. >> but i'm not sure putin will see this as undermining a potential for syria -- we did not see that. we could have seen announcement by the white house saying they're going to establish fly zones or safe zones which could have entailed operations with russians with aircraft in that area. >> but you have trump dictating
action now, the previous state of play is putin is doing everything and -- is on his heels. that's changed. >> for five minutes of t-lams. >> for this process, a huge russian red line, it's not about did we strike one thing or ten things, it's about what they're view of international law in the sovereignty of states and this is extential for putin, they felt burned for libya, now we're attacking syria. they see that as a challenge to international relations that you can't attack unless you have some sort of -- >> unless you're russia and can waltz right into the ukraine -- >> but they have cancelled the
deconflictions, there's no way now we're going to get a u.n. security council resolution. this is a huge diplomatic crisis between world powers whether the trump administration likes it. they try to minimize this by saying we're going back to business, that's not going to happen. russia is taking this very seriously. >> but to david points, this does change the david's point. you will recall hillary clinton called him putin's puppet. this seems to defy that. >> it takes the heat off the investigation in congress about all of the potential collusion during the campaign with russia. now he will send in his secretary of state and i think we should underline this. secretary of state tillerson is putting on the table the idea that assad should go and russia should think carefully about its actions, but also support for
assad. trump is asserting himself here. he wanted to be the un-obama. it is obama dithered. i struck. he had a red line, he did nothing. i had a red line, i acted immediately. not so easy when you deal with vladimir putin. he has been at this a long time. it is a more aggressive diplomatic posture. >> a.b., stay with us. we're at the top of the hour. we want to welcome viewers of the united states and around the world. a special edition of "new day." we have breaking news. donald trump ordering military strikes in syria. president trump ordering a military strike in syria. 59 tomahawk missiles hammering a syrian air base. not just any air base. this is the one that the u.s. believes this is where the chemical attack against their
own citizens began in syria. the united states is calling it retaliation for killing those people, including all those children. >> this was the base as chris said they believe was used for the attack. president trump seems to have made a stunning reversal in the course of one week. now the president waited 24 hours to speak out against the chemical attack. his administration opposed the removal of the brutal dictator of assad. today, does president trump need congress and/or a coalition of nations to make his next move. we have the global resources of cnn covering the story. we have our correspondent jim sciutto live in washington. >> reporter: good morning, alisyn. this was a devastating u.s. military strike, but focused. 59 tomahawk cruise missiles